Coral reefs are nature's shock absorbers; they face the full brunt of incoming storms and reduce their violence. So would it be possible to duplicate their functionality with man-made glass reefs? According to architect Mathew Baird, creating these artificial reef barriers would protect the low-lying areas around Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey.
The reefs would be fashioned out of glass "jacks" fabricated from recycled glass from the area, earning the project extra environmental kudos. The jacks would be dropped off barges to create the artificial reefs, which would not only slow the waves but would also provide new habitat for marine creatures. "It's a bit of alchemy," said Baird in a recent presentation, "but we hope it's the future."